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The ESA wants to put people on the moon by the 2020s

Robots too.

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The European Space Agency is going back to the moon. It announced on Friday that it's working with international partners to land a series of manned missions on the moon by the end of the next decade. But first, they're sending in robots to pave the way.

The ESA plans to launch a number of mechanized explorers and utilities -- including rovers, telebots and hybrid surface power -- to assist astronauts as they tool about the surface of Earth's natural satellite in search of resources like frozen water ice to sustain future missions. The first robot sent will be the PILOT precision-landing and hazard-avoidance system, which should arrive at the moon's south pole aboard a Russian Luna 27 rocket in 2020.

[Image Credit: NASA]

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